What Causes Clogged Ears?

Clogged ears can interfere with your overall quality of life, even if they don't cause any serious pain. You may find it difficult to hear the people and sounds that surround you. In addition, you may notice a feeling of fullness or ringing in the ears. So, what causes clogged ears and how can you find relief from them? Keep reading to find.

Why Your Ears May Be Clogged

There are a number of reasons you may face clogged ears including:

Blockage of the Eustachian Tube

The Eustachian tube is intended to connect your middle ear to your throat. If mucus and fluid get trapped in the middle of your ear, your Eustachian tube may experience blockage and lead to clogged ears. You may also notice symptoms such as sinusitis, the common cold, and influenza.

High Altitude

If you're flying in a plane, scuba diving, or participating in another activity in which you're at a higher altitude than usual, your ears may become clogged. This is because of the air pressure change that your body isn't used to. Fortunately, clogged ears that stem from high altitude don't last for long.


Earwax cleans your ear canal and stops debris from entering it. Although it's typically soft, earwax may harden and create ear blockage. Earwax that leads to clogged ears is often accompanied by other symptoms such as dizziness, earaches, and ringing in the ears.

Acoustic Neuroma

Acoustic neuroma is a noncancerous growth that develops on the nerve that leads from the inner ear to the brain. As the growth increases in size, it may put pressure on the inner ear nerves and in turn cause hearing loss, clogged ears, and a few other uncomfortable symptoms.

How to Treat Clogged Ears

While clogged ears are a nuisance, they can usually be treated through conservative, at-home measures such as:


Turn your shower water on hot and hang out in the bathroom for about 15 minutes. This way the hot water will loosen the mucus in your ear and unclog it. You can also place a steaming hot washcloth over your ear.

Over-the-Counter Medication

If your clogged ears are the result of allergies, colds, or sinus drainage, a decongestant or antihistamine may help. Be sure to adhere to the instructions on the label if you go this route and don't over consume.

Ear Drops

You can purchase an over-the-counter earwax removal kit online or at a local drugstore to soften your earwax and flush it out of your ears. Another option is to place a few drops of baby or mineral oil into your ear via a dropper. Tilt your head for a few seconds to flush out as much ear wax as possible.

If at home remedies fail to treat your clogged ears or they continue to persist, it's a good idea to visit an ENT who can diagnose the root cause of your condition and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

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